Alberto Contador Increases Overall Lead in Decisive 2010 Tour de France Time Trial
Alberto Contador leads the race by 39 seconds to Andy Schleck; Fabian Cancellara powers to time trial win ahead of Tony Martin, Bert Grabsch and Ignatas Konovalovas.
Alberto Contador leads the Tour de France 2010 by 39 seconds to Andy Schleck; Fabian Cancellara powers to time trial win ahead of Tony Martin, Bert Grabsch and Ignatas Konovalovas.
Alberto Contador (Team Astana) is set to win his third Tour de France title in four years after retaining the yellow jersey in the next-to-last stage of the 2010 Tour de France earlier today.
Fabian Cancellara (Team Saxo Bank) won the time trial, but the 27-year-old Contador held on to his razor-thin lead over Andy Schleck (Team Saxo Bank) of Luxembourg, who had started the 19th stage in second place, 8 seconds back.
"I am very moved ... It was a difficult Tour and I'm very happy," said Contador, who wiped away tears, took a deep breath and his hand trembled as he finger-pistoled the crowd -- his trademark gesture -- after donning the yellow jersey.
"I think it's the first Tour that has given me so much emotion, you can't imagine."
Schleck said he had no regrets.
"Beating Contador is not easy, but I tried everything," he said. "I am happy, and I'll come back next year to win."
Riders set off one by one down a starter's ramp for the 52-kilometer (32.3-mile) race against the clock that set the final positions on the podium. Schleck is set to finish second to Contador for the second straight year.
Cancellara, one of the world's top time-trial riders, won by outpacing Tony Martin of Germany, who was second, 17 seconds back. Bert Grabsch of Germany was third, 1 minute, 48 seconds behind the winner.
"I'm truly happy about the victory. Time trials over an hour are insanely demanding where you have to keep focus every second of the way to hold the rhythm and pressure on the pulse. On the paper, the course looks pretty flat and easy but believe me, it was lumpy and the headwind forced me to dig deep within myself to come up with the power to do this after a long and wearing Tour de France. But I really wanted to win. I'm sorry that Andy wasn't able to take the jersey today but we had a great Tour with both Andy and me in the leader's jersey, winning the white jersey, four stage wins and a spot on the podium," Team Saxo Bank's time trial world champion Fabian Cancellara said after the finish.
Contador was 35th, 5:43 back, while Schleck finished 44th, 6:14 behind Cancellara. That 31-second difference extended the Spaniard's overall lead to 39 seconds.
It was a day of duels.
Denis Menchov (Team Rabobank) of Russia, who won the 2009 Giro d'Italia, mounted an impressive time trial and overcame Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) of Spain to wrest third place overall.
Menchov had begun the day in fourth, 21 seconds back of Sanchez, but nearly four minutes behind Contador and Schleck. The Russian finished 11th -- 3:51 back of Cancellara - and Sanchez was 40th, 5:51 behind.
Overall, Menchov trails Contador by 2:01, and Sanchez fell to fourth, trailing his compatriot by 3:40.
Cervelo TestTeam's Lithuanian powerhouse Ignatas Konovalovas finished fourth in today's time trial. "It was very hard today. I was suffering all the time. You cannot give yourself a rest. I got caught by Cancellara after 20 kilometer, then I kept the same gap for 20 kilometer, so it helped me a lot. Then I cracked in the last eight kilometers. He started sprinting and then I couldn't hold his tempo anymore," Konovalovas told Roadcycling.com after the finish.
Konovalovas added "It was a good time trial, because I can see that I can keep the speed of Cancellara. OK, not for 50 kilometer, but if I can keep that for 20 kilometer, that's a good sign for me. I am more tired in the head. The legs are OK. I feel stronger, more experienced. The Tour de France is a great experience."
Team BMC Racing's World Champion Cadel Evans finished 10:57 behind stage winner Cancellara. Evans said he battled severe fatigue. "Your body has to put so much work into recovering bones and injury, it doesn't have the energy to specifically recover from the work every day," Evans told Roadcycling.com and added "I'm feeling a bit sapped of strength, that's for sure. I had a good group of people around me. An optimistic attitude I think is the biggest change in the environment that I'm in now. That goes a long way especially when things aren't going well."
Barring catastrophe AKA the famous dog across the road, Contador is all but certain to win the race in the 20th and final stage on Sunday - a 102.5-kilometer (63.7-mile) trek from Longjumeau to the Champs-Elysees in Paris, France.
By tradition, the last stage has become a largely ceremonial ride - and any attempt at attacks would likely be quashed by Contador and his Astana teammates.
In the other race categories - assuming the riders and teams finish on Sunday - France's Anthony Charteau (Team BBox) has locked up the polka-dot jersey for the race's best climber; 25-year-old Schleck will take home the white jersey for being the best young Tour rider for a third straight year and Team RadioShack is set to win the team competition.
The last remaining question lingers over the fate of the green jersey, given to the best rider - typically a sprinter - based on a points system, because Sunday's stage is likely to end in a sprint. Alessandro Petacchi - a 36-year-old Italian - currently looks likely to win that competition unless Thor Hushovd regains the powers he's posessed in past Tours.
Click here for full 2010 Tour de France stage 19 results.
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